Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the oceans act and, in so doing, to pay tribute to its author, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. In the short time he has occupied that post he has shown exemplary leadership by leading our country through one of the worst crisis in the Atlantic fishery and turning that difficult situation on the Atlantic coast, and as well in other respects on the Pacific coast, into an opportunity for Canada to assert its pride as a nation internationally and its sense of leadership on behalf of the world's oceans.
The oceans act which was tabled on Tuesday and which the minister addressed on Tuesday is, as he has pointed out, legislation that constitutes one element, but a major element, in the overall strategy of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to intensify its effort toward the oceans and will be complemented by a number of other policies and activities in the months ahead.
The objectives of the oceans act are to recognize in domestic law Canada's jurisdiction over its ocean areas and their resources, to provide the legislative framework for a new oceans management regime and to regroup key federal ocean related statutes under the oceans act.
The legislation consists of three parts, each of which contains the regulatory enforcement and operational authorities required for its implementation.
Part I is Canada's maritime zones. This part defines Canada's maritime zones by incorporating provisions of the Territorial Sea and Fishing Zones Act. It declares Canada's rights and jurisdiction over the contiguous zone and the exclusive economic zone and it defines the minimum limits of Canada's continental shelf as provided for by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Let me point out that the declaration of the contiguous zone and of an exclusive economic zone is in full agreement with international practice. The limitation of Canada's maritime zones also outlines the area over which Canada will now apply its new oceans management strategy.
In accordance with the government's efforts to consolidate key ocean legislation under the umbrella of the oceans act, provisions of the Territorial Sea and Fishing Zones Act and the Canadian Laws Offshore Applications Act are incorporated into the this bill. This legislation further emphasizes Canada's rights with respect to the continental shelf. Canada has rights to living organisms belonging to sedentary species on or in the shelf and jurisdiction over the exploration and the exploitation of minerals and non-living resources of the seabed and of the subsoil.
The declaration of Canadian jurisdiction over the territorial sea and the contiguous zone and the exclusive zone is crucial. Most Canadians may not know these technical terms, but many Canadians will have heard the phrases 12-mile zone and 200-mile zone. Canada's territorial sea extends from the coastline out 12 nautical miles. In the territorial sea Canada has full jurisdiction to ocean waters, to the seabed beneath these waters and the space above.
The contiguous zone will extend an additional 12 nautical miles from the outer edge of the territorial sea. In this zone Canada will have the power to enforce our criminal, fiscal, immigration, sanitary and customs laws.
The exclusive economic zones will encompass all of the ocean area out to 200 nautical miles from the coastal baseline. In this zone Canada will have jurisdiction for exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the living and non-living resources of the waters, seabed and subsoil. Canada's jurisdiction in this zone will cover marine scientific research, protection and preservation of the marine environment and artificial islands, installations and structures.
Through this legislation Canada will establish major new rights over the ocean. In the councils of the world Canadians pushed hard to establish these rights. These new zones grant Canada powers that go well beyond the powers our country asserted in the past. The bill will put in place a clear definition of jurisdiction that is fully supported by global agreement.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans expressed this clearly on Tuesday in the House when he stated: "The world backs Canada's jurisdiction over Canadian waters".
This brings me to Part II, oceans management strategy. This part commits us to the development of a new method by which we shall manage the oceans and their resources. It identifies the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as the federal authority responsible for the co-ordination and facilitation of the development and implementation with stakeholders of an oceans management strategy. It provides the minister with the necessary statutory authority to do so. This part also authorizes the minister to create marine protected areas for the protection of the fishery resource.
Let me review the goals of the strategy outlined in the legislation. One goal is to integrate planning and management of activities within and among jurisdictions. Another is to reduce regulatory duplication and conflict. Still another is to increase the effectiveness of environmental protection measures and to replace the
existing sectoral approach to resource management in favour of a more comprehensive ecosystem-based approach.
The act thus provides the building blocks for integrated management and sustainable development of Canada's ocean resources. It outlines a new ecosystems approach to marine resource management. It provides a common focus for federal responsibilities and consolidates federal programs. It gives Canadians legislative tools with which to begin working on ocean management holistically, rather than sectorally.
We have long known the need for sustainable development of resources. This need was clearly put forward in the report of the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development, better known as the Bruntland report after its chairman, Gro Harlem Bruntland, now Prime Minister of Norway.
Here is how the commission defined sustainable development: "Activity in which the environment is fully incorporated into the economic decision-making process as a forethought, not an afterthought". The report called for: "Development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs". The government is acting on the commission's call.
Last year the National Advisory Board of Science and Technology called for an oceans act to address the needs of ocean frontier development for the present and the future. The advisory board called for Canada to develop a proactive oceans policy that plans for the future, rather than just responds to crisis.
In November 1994, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans released a document setting out the potential elements of an ocean management vision for Canada. The government sought the advice of Canadians across the country. Certain themes recurred in that advice. The federal government has a leadership role to play in oceans policy. There should be one federal department taking the lead in developing a new strategy. People want to be involved locally in developing solutions to regional priorities. There is a need to sustain resources and to diversify.
Such was the advice we received. It came from provinces, municipalities, coastal residents, fishermen, business, labour, environmentalists and scientists. The bill before us sets out the elements of an oceans policy. But all Canadians must be involved in developing specific mechanisms, planning and management structures, as well as the guidelines and standards needed to bring about sustainable use of oceans and their resources.
The oceans management strategy envisaged by this legislation is broad in scope and flexible in implementation. It recognizes the consensus building that is needed for a cohesive and coherent oceans policy for our country.
Again, let me quote the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans from his address to the House on Tuesday: "The bill identifies federal leadership and commitment to a comprehensive approach to oceans management. The bill seeks to address regulatory duplication, conflict and inadequacies that result in inefficiencies, failure to protect the environment and impediments to development and this bill is founded on the principle that long term solutions require long term co-operation".
The oceans act will give the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, on behalf of the Government of Canada, legal authority to draw together all of Canada's ocean stakeholders, to develop a strategy based on the sustainable development and integrated management of activities and resources in estuarine, coastal and marine waters.
The act provides the authority to develop the actual mechanisms to implement the new strategy. It gives the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans the ability to enter into new partnership agreements in order to ensure that the ocean management strategy meets regional needs and fulfils regional aspirations.
Part III deals with the powers, duties and functions of the minister. This part provides for consolidation and clarification of federal responsibilities for managing Canada's oceans. It reflects the enhanced mandate of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and it provides statutory authority for Canadian Coast Guard functions transferred to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Those functions include provision of services for the safe, economical and efficient movement of ships in Canadian waters; the marine component of the federal search and rescue program; pleasure craft safety and marine pollution prevention and response, as well as ships, aircraft and other marine services in support of other federal programs, boards and agencies.
Oceans related provisions previously contained in other legislation have been incorporated into this section of the act. Most notable is the authority of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to conduct hydrographic, oceanographic and marine scientific surveys, to conduct research and to publish various products.
As the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans observed at the last debate on the oceans act, with this legislation we are coming to the successful conclusion of a long and dramatic chapter in Canada's maritime history. With this legislation we are coming to the beginning of a new and even more vital chapter in that history.
The Canada oceans act will give our country and exclusive economic zone covering almost 5 million square kilometres of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. With the passage of this act
Canada will effectively increase by one-half as our jurisdiction will encompass both the land mass and the oceans.
As the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans said, the Canada oceans act does expand our notion of Canada as a country. The oceans management strategy increases the priority we place as a society on wise development of our waters. It signals that Canada and Canadians are prepared to act in making the most of our ocean assets, opportunities and obligations.
The fisheries and oceans minister has aptly described the Canada oceans act as the last step forward toward formal jurisdiction over Canada's ocean territory. However, the act is also the first step toward recognizing the extraordinary importance and potential of this vast territory.
In legislative terms the bill establishes jurisdiction over Canada's ocean area and ocean resources. It establishes the primary rules and provides the tools to help support Canada's new oceans management regime. It consolidates and clarifies federal responsibilities for managing Canada's oceans.
In real life terms the bill marks a transition in Canadians' relationship with our oceans. It marks an acceptance of reciprocal obligation; as the oceans benefit us, so we are agreeing to act to benefit the oceans.
The oceans act signals a renewal of Canada's leadership in oceans management. With this act we are asserting Canada's role as a world leader. Sustainable development is a goal to which all nations must be committed, not only of the fisheries resource but of all ocean resources.
There may be seven seas but there is only one ocean. The oceans make up one single global organism connected by great currents flowing from hemisphere to hemisphere. Oceans play a vital role in regulating our climate. Oceans also play a key role in the water cycle, the chemistry of the atmosphere and the making of climate and weather. Oceans also supply us not only with food but also energy, minerals and medicines.
With the oceans act Canada will be in an even stronger position to show the world the way of conserving ocean resources. As the member for the Cape Breton Highlands-Canso, a constituency which depends greatly on the oceans near its coasts, be it for fishing or as a vital link in eastern Canada for ocean protection, for conservation and for environmental response through the Strait of Canso, I am very pleased to greet this Canada oceans act and the co-ordination and consolidation that it represents in Canada's oceans policy.
I am pleased also to support the government in bringing this legislation forward as well as the initiatives which will flow from this initiative in expanding Canada's sense of responsibility over the oceans and also in continuing the leadership which our Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has demonstrated to the great pride of all Canadians in taking the lead in the world in managing our ocean environment.